Belonging Can Involve the Making of Difficult Choices

John W. foster said that ‘a man without decision can never be said to belong to himself. ’ This perception of belonging clearly demonstrates that it is necessary to make difficult decisions to belong. This idea is partially confirmed in the texts I have studied: Immigrant Chronicle by Peter Skrynecki, and the novel Fiddler on the Roof by Norman Jewison. These three texts demonstrate that an individual can make difficult choices to not belong as well as belong depending on what they want.

As mentioned above, making difficult choices can also make a person not to belong. This concept is aptly demonstrated in Peter Skrynecki’s poem ‘Postcard’. In this poem, Skrzynecki shows his decisions using a number of figurative devices such as when he speaks to the postcard in an apostrophe, stating “I never knew you”, and later repeats, “I never knew you/ Let me be. ” The repetition of this phrase and the imperative (“Let”) convey an ardent rejection of the image of the town. This suggests a conscious decision not to belong to the world of the postcard.

Similarly, Peter in “Feliks Skrzynecki” chooses not to belong with his father’s Polish friends. The negative connotations of “violently” create a sense of his alienation from them. The high modality when he says he “never got used to” the friends’ “formal address[ing]” of his father. “Feliks Skrzynecki” further suggests his choice not to belong with his father’s friends. In the poem “St. Patrick’s College” emphasizes how the poet chooses not to belong to the school where his mother wants him to go to.

The poem starts with a notion that the poet’s mother decides for her son to belong to a particular group in the community. She decides the future of her son by judging the school’s uniforms of her employer’s sons “Impressed by the uniforms. Of the employer’s sons,” The second stanza starts with a negative image from the Skrzynecki’s point of view. He uses a reference of the Virgin Mary, “Our lady”, to emphasise the fact that he doesn’t belong to this school right at the first place.

This idea has been explored through the use of juxtaposition with “outstretched arms” and “overshadowed face”. Furthermore into this stanza, Skrzynecki expresses his feeling towards the school’s motto. Irony has been used to show the fact that he is desecrating the school’s motto. He couldn’t connect to the school and this basically create a different personality in Skrzynecki Throughout the poem, Skrzynecki repeats “for eight years” twice. This reference of time stresses the length of stay at a place where he doesn’t feel belonging. Like a foreign tourist,” simile has been used to state the fact that he feels like a stranger to the school even though he has been there for a long time, the fact that he is not a part of this school for even one day. The last stanza is where more positive tones are used. The reason for that is because Skrzynecki can finally leave this school and live his own life. However, negative image still appears through this stanza when he says:”Our Lady still watching, Above, unchanged by eight years’ weather. This personification and metaphor are used to punctuate that the poet’s emotions towards the school are still the same as the first day he came to “St. Pat’s”, the fact that he didn’t get any education but all he got was religion. Towards the end of the poem, metaphor is one again used when Skrzynecki expresses his feeling when he’s leaving St. Patrick’s College:“That the darkness around me. Wasn’t ‘for the best’. Before I let my life shine” St. Patrick’s College is described as the darkness that prevents Skrzynecki from shining his own “life”.

For eight years, he has to put up with all the religion that he can never understand and there’s not even one day that he feels a sense of belonging there. He couldn’t find any sense of belonging in this place and he created his own personality in a different way the school want him to be. His choice of not belonging is shown clearly with the fact that he wants education, not religion. Contrastingly, In the film, Fiddler on the Roof, a tale centering on the family of Tevye, a Jewish family living in the town of Anatevka, in Tsarist Russia, in 1905.

Anatevka is broken into two sections: a small Orthodox Jewish section; and a larger Orthodox Christian section. Tevye notes that, “We don’t bother them, and so far, they don’t bother us. ” Throughout the film, Tevye breaks the fourth wall by talking at times, directly to the audience or to the heavens (to God), for the audience’s benefit. Much of the story is also told in musical form. Tevye is not wealthy, despite working hard, like most Jews in Anatevka, also having many children. He and his wife, Golde (Norma Crane), have five daughters and cannot afford to give them much in the way of dowries.

According to their tradition, they have to rely on the village matchmaker, Yente (Molly Picon), to find them husbands. Life in the little town of Anatevka is very hard and Tevye speaks not only of the difficulties of being poor but also of the Jewish community’s constant fear of harassment from their non-Jewish neighbors. In addition, Tevya has a lame horse, that adds to the misery of being poor, and has to carry the wagon by himself. Tevye emerges as a die-hard traditionalist despite his grief for losing his daughter Chava. He says “Traditions, traditions… f we had no traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof”. At the end, he gestures to the fiddler, who represents tradition, to follow him on his path to exile, despite all the hardships he endures in attempting to uphold his traditional ideals which he feels a firm dedication to. This shows that difficult decisions can be made to belong. The idea of making difficult decisions can make a person belong or not belong is clearly demonstrated in the way Peter chooses himself to be isolated from his polish heritage and the way Tevye holds on to his tradition even after his daughter’s death.

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